When I start a decorating job for a client, one of the first questions I’m always asked is, “What color should I paint these walls?” That’s a tricky question, as it’s not just a matter of going through a stack of paint chips and declaring, “This one!”
To determine the perfect hue for a particular room, we need to start with how we want to feel in it. Do we want to be energized? Calm? Hopeful? Colors can affect our emotions, so it’s important to understand the psychology of color in the context of home decorating. Let’s look at some colors and how they can make you feel.
The color of passion, red is stimulating and energetic. It’s good for kitchens and dining rooms because it also stimulates the appetite. However, because it can raise blood pressure and heart rate, try not to use red in bedrooms, where you need your beauty sleep.
If you like red but are afraid it could be too intense, orange is a good alternative. Orange conveys enthusiasm and creativity, and also is ideal for kitchens and dining rooms. Orange is a friendly color, so you will find that many businesses use it in their corporate communications and interiors to suggest a more customer-oriented image.
The color of sunshine, yellow is joyful and optimistic. Its welcoming vibe is perfect for entryways and living rooms, but a little goes a long way. Too much yellow, especially when it’s a brighter shade, can feel oppressive. It does work well as an accent color, offering a happy contrast to cooler colors such as gray.
A popular choice for bedrooms, blue creates a feeling of serenity and peace. Light blues are particularly calming, but they run the risk of making you sad, or “blue,” if the room receives little natural sunlight. If that’s the case, try a deeper blue or balance it with some warmer shades.
The most prevalent color in nature, green is another calming color and is very restful for the eyes. It also helps you concentrate and stay focused, so it is perfect for home offices. Because it blends the serenity of blue with the cheerfulness of yellow, green works in almost any room.
Another color dominant in nature, brown offers comfort and security. Both the lighter shades such as beige and the deeper chocolate shades create warmth in any room. And even if you choose not to apply brown paint to the walls, you can get a similar effect with wood finishes on furniture and floors.
It’s no wonder purple is considered the color of royalty. Especially in its deeper shades, purple evokes luxury and sophistication. It adds drama to living rooms, even in small doses as an accent color. And in lighter shades such as lavender, purple creates a calming environment for bedrooms, but with more grandeur than blue or green.
Traditionally stereotyped as feminine, pink has very calming effects. In fact, researchers have shown that prison cells painted pink resulted in less anger and hostility among inmates. The University of Iowa even painted its visiting football team’s locker room pink to make the players less aggressive. Imagine the wonders it can do for your teenager.
Jonathan Fong is the author of “Walls That Wow,” “Flowers That Wow” and “Parties That Wow,” and host of “Style With a Smile” on YouTube. You can see more of his do-it-yourself projects at jonathanfongstyle.com.